The CrossFit Karen Workout, Explained and Scaled for Every Skill Level

You possibly can’t discuss powerlifting exercises with out mentioning the deadlift. And what are strongman competitions with out some sort of stone occasion? In CrossFit, the secret is unpredictability — however there are nonetheless some highly effective benchmarks which can be all however synonymous with the game itself.

Karen is one such WOD (exercise of the day). Comprised of 1 motion and one motion solely, Karen is a ceremony of passage in CrossFit. You’ll do 150 reps of wall ball photographs, as shortly as potential. It’s that easy. And it’s additionally that tough. Even for skilled CrossFitters, Karen can carry on unprecedented ranges of soreness and psychological anguish. 

A person doing wall ball shots.
Credit score: Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock

That many reps of 1 motion is quite a bit, particularly when that motion taxes you from (over)head all the way down to your toes. Right here’s what it’s essential know to outlive the CrossFit Karen exercise — and the best way to carry your wall ball game to a complete new degree.

Editor’s Observe: The content material on BarBend is supposed to be informative in nature, but it surely shouldn’t be taken as medical recommendation. When beginning a brand new coaching routine and/or weight-reduction plan, it’s all the time a good suggestion to seek the advice of a trusted medical skilled. We aren’t a medical useful resource. The opinions and articles on this website should not supposed to be used as prognosis, prevention, and/or remedy of well being issues. They aren’t substitutes for consulting a certified medical skilled.

What Is the Karen Exercise?

If you wish to take a look at your endurance and show your psychological toughness with minimal time and gear, make Karen your new go-to. Launched as a benchmark WOD on the CrossFit web site in 2008, this exercise consists of 1 train and one train solely — the infamous wall ball shot.

Karen requires 150 wall ball photographs, all completed as shortly as potential. It is a hefty workload to your total physique. Your legs will likely be completely roasted; your core will be exhausted from supporting such intense ups and downs; your upper back and arms will likely be not-so-lightly toasted; and your coronary heart and lungs will undergo a giant cardio effort. Such is the effectiveness of Karen: only one motion is extremely efficient all throughout your physique and fitness level

Right here’s the exercise itself, specified by all its simplicity:

The Exercise

For time:

Girls: 14-pound medicine ball, nine-foot goal | Males: 20-pound medication ball, 10-foot goal*

*CrossFit allows trans athletes to compete with their cisgender friends however doesn’t presently have any provisions for nonbinary athletes.

Athletes of any gender can go for a unique weight or peak of their selection. However all the time be sure to’re paying attention to exactly the way you’re scaling the workout to be able to know the best way to examine your efficiency subsequent time.

What Are Good Karen Instances?

The time it takes athletes to finish Karen is tremendously based mostly on ability, expertise degree, and the way strategic an athlete is in planning their workout. Even essentially the most superior athlete can come out of the gate too quick and burn out. Sluggish and regular usually wins this race.

However that doesn’t imply that absurdly quick Karen occasions don’t occur. For instance, Polish CrossFitter Magdelena Kroliowska has been recorded pulling off Karen in a lightning-fast time of three:56. You possibly can test it out under:

What’s a quick Karen time so that you can purpose for? Think about these benchmarks under:

  • Elite: underneath 4 and a half minutes
  • Superior: between 4 and a half and 7 minutes
  • Intermediate: between seven and 12 minutes
  • Newbie: over 12 minutes

Methods for the Karen Exercise

Whereas it’s easy on paper, Karen will take the wind out of you. It’s not solely about your legs, although these will begin yelling shortly. Karen requires you to remain calm, regulate your breath, and preserve stable kind with an amazing quantity of reps. You’ll additionally need to take heed to your physique and follow a sensible evaluation of your talents as a substitute of main along with your ego.

This makes Karen a terrific exercise for getting in contact with your self as an athlete. You’ll need to make sensible selections before your workout and through it, too. Right here’s how.

Tempo Your self

You would possibly come out of the gate tremendous quick. However when you’ve polished off that first highly effective set of 40, your time could finally be longer for those who’re barely eking by way of three or 4 rep units for the remainder of the exercise.

One solution to set a tempo for your self is to check out your wall ball shot capacity earlier than launching in. What number of reps are you able to do without having longer than a 10-second rest to return again comparatively contemporary? Perhaps that quantity is 10. In that case, make a plan to do 15 units of 10. Take 10 seconds of relaxation between every set.

However simply since you’ve made a plan doesn’t imply you may’t break it. Perhaps you deliberate to do 10 units of 15 however didn’t sleep nicely final night time. If after the primary couple of units, you’re fatigued and need to take greater than 10 seconds to get well, that’s an indication to shake up your sport plan. Shift to units of 10 as a substitute to maintain your pacing regular as a substitute of completely burning out.

Breathe Constantly

When the pains of Karen begin catching up with you, you’re going to need to gasp to your breath. Don’t. As a lot as potential, attempt to take sluggish, deep breaths between units. In case you can, attempt to take as many of those breaths by way of your nostril as you may. These slower breaths may also help regulate your physique and aid your recovery from one set to the subsequent.

In case your solely recourse for respiration between units is to gasp for air, you’ll need to modify course and decelerate. Take an extended break between this set and your subsequent, after which shave some reps off your future units so that they’re organized in smaller segments. The purpose is to have the ability to be as in charge of your breathing as you will be to maximize recovery and stamina.

Hold Monitor of Your Reps

As a CrossFitter, you’re used to counting reps. However 150 is kind of a giant quantity. Even for those who’ve divided your work into units of 5, you’ll nonetheless need to hold monitor of 30 complete units.

Crossfitters doing wall ball shots.
Credit score: Floor Image / Shutterstock

Make a plan for conserving monitor of the numbers earlier than you begin. Some athletes could want to maintain two smaller numbers of their heads without delay. Within the 30 units of 5 instance, you would possibly decide to rely by saying: “one, two, three, 4 5,” then begin your subsequent set with “two, two, three…,” then “three, two…”, all the best way as much as, “30, two, three, 4, 5.”

If that sort of counting isn’t your type, rely in a single huge block as a substitute. Say you’re planning to carry out 10 units of 15. You’ll begin your first set at one; your second set at 16; your third set at 31; your fourth set at 46; and so on. Simply hold counting upward, pausing each 15 reps after which persevering with the rely such as you by no means stopped.

Discover a system that works for you when the clock isn’t ticking and the stakes aren’t so excessive. And if counting whereas understanding actually isn’t in your wheelhouse, tag in a buddy who can function your CrossFit choose. That manner, you’ll do all of the lifting and so they’ll do all the mathematics.

The best way to Scale Karen for Learners

You may not be a newbie athlete, however you is perhaps new to this motion. Otherwise you is perhaps coming back from injury and want to switch sure strikes in the intervening time. No matter your scenario, there’s no disgrace in being a beginner in the case of Karen. Listed here are some methods to make the benchmark be just right for you.

Scale back the Weight, Reps, or Top

Maybe the obvious modification of any weighted CrossFit workout, you may all the time use a lighter medicine ball than what’s referred to as for within the exercise as written. No matter your gender, you may undertake a weight that works best for you. Keep in mind that simply because it feels on the doable facet to begin doesn’t imply it’ll really feel that gentle by the hundredth rep.

Alternatively (or as well as), perform fewer overall reps. Perhaps which means knocking the whole rep rely all the way down to 75 or 50. Wherever you wind up, purpose to get proficient at that quantity and construct your endurance from there.

Lastly, you may cut back the peak of your wall ball shot goal. This can be tough, as many CrossFit boxes could have them positioned at mounted heights. But when it’s essential, it’s typically not too onerous to search out spare wall area in a CrossFit field. Decide the purpose you’d prefer to toss the drugs ball to, purpose, and get that clock began.

Do an EMOM

If the exercise is taking you over quarter-hour constantly, consider implementing an EMOM — each minute on the minute. Carry out 10 reps each minute, on the minute. You get to relaxation the whole remainder of the minute. It will set your time at quarter-hour precisely. 

Every time you re-retest the WOD, add a rep or two extra per minute. You’ll shave day off and enhance your pace alongside the best way.

Modify the Motion

The wall ball shot could also be a primary motion, however that doesn’t imply it’s straightforward. It’s a must to squat all the way down (previous parallel) and generate sufficient momentum to help your upper body toss the ball all the best way as much as the goal. And you must try this 150 occasions, as quick as you may.

A person doing wall ball shots
Credit score: Blume Retailer / Shutterstock

Fatigue will accumulate shortly. And for some athletes, that full range of motion merely isn’t accessible, regardless of their expertise degree. However that doesn’t imply you may’t carry out Karen.

For instance, athletes who can’t carry out the squat portion of wall ball photographs can carry out push press photographs as a substitute. In that case, you’ll toss the ball as much as the goal utilizing upper body and core strength, in addition to no matter lower body momentum you may entry.

Listed here are another examples of motion modifications for Karen, each for beginners and different athletes who might have them:

  • Push Press Wall Ball Shot
  • Thruster*
  • Squat to Field Wall Ball

* Use a PVC pipe as a substitute of a barbell.

Athletes at any ability degree might have modifications for Karen or any other benchmark workout. Modifications aren’t just for newcomers, so make sure to use them if it’s essential. That mentioned, with an intermediate degree of health underneath your belt, you would possibly be capable to turn up the volume (actually).

Begin Scaling Up

Many first-timers to performing Karen may have scaled one side or one other. Whether or not you’ve modified a movement, the whole reps, the wall ball goal peak, or the drugs ball weight, you’ve doubtless modified one thing about this workout.

After you’ve established a baseline of familiarity with this exercise and the train concerned, begin scaling it up. In case you’ve modified multiple side of the WOD, select one ingredient to gradually intensify first

So for instance, you might need began by utilizing a 10-pound medicine ball to a seven-foot goal. When you’re comfy, increase the goal a few toes with the identical 10-pound ball. Finally, you’ll use a heavier ball, maybe for an additional seven-foot goal. Make these incremental adjustments till you’ve progressed to performing the exercise as written.

The best way to Scale Karen for Superior Athletes

Even for advanced athletes, Karen is not any stroll within the park. Positive, it’s “solely” 150 reps of “solely” one motion. However very skilled CrossFitters know that there’s just one factor to do whenever you need to actually break by way of with an unbelievable Karen time.

Attempt to Go Unbroken

Finishing Karen unbroken is the gold normal for this WOD. Spend time growing the stamina, strength, and charm underneath stress that it’s essential full all 150 reps with no break in between. In case you attempt to do that too quickly, you is perhaps cruising toward an injury or burnout.

As soon as you may blaze by way of 75 crisp reps unbroken, attempt for 100 in your subsequent Karen try. If that’s profitable, tack on one other 25 reps, or simply go for these closing 50 reps. Nonetheless you get there, know that performing this WOD unbroken is an unbelievable accomplishment. Be sure you have a good time, it doesn’t matter what your time is.

Extra on CrossFit Coaching

There you’ve got it — the best way to do the CrossFit Karen exercise and live on. Your legs is perhaps sore from the final word leg day and also you would possibly by no means need to take a look at another medicine ball in your life. However congratulations: you’ve completed it.

As you progress ahead in your CrossFit journey, try these different basic benchmark exercises. Which one will you tackle subsequent?

Featured Picture: Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock

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